I’ve been at it a long time, and one thing (of many things) that I still have not gotten down is scheduling. I seem to have a method to my own madness, but somehow I imagine it’s not how other people do this. I’ve heard other shrinks say, “I’m booked for the next 4 weeks” or say they aren’t taking any new patients. Some people put a “no new patients” message on their answering machine. Wait, so no appointments for 4 weeks? What if a patient calls and needs to be seen very soon? Like this week? If you can’t wait, go to the ER? I thought the point of having a private doc was that you didn’t have to go to the ER unless something couldn’t be handled safely as an outpatient. And if you tell the world that you don’t take new patients, then don’t people stop referring to you? It seems to me that patients will come in and announce, “I’m doing better and want to come less often,” “I’m moving,” “I’m done,” or they will cancel an appointment, not call back, and not be heard from again for weeks or months. Sometimes it all happens on very short notice and life can be very unpredictable.
In my pre-shrink days, I thought that psychiatry worked such that patients came every week (or twice a week, or whatever) and had their own slots. Tuesday at 1, that’s me! So a psychiatrist had every slot full with patients this way, and could be “full,” until a patient finished and stopped coming, and then another soul was let in to the Tuesday at 1 slot. Gosh that would be nice, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*